Vacation rental law now in effect

Owners can apply for permits, but counties say no rentals for now

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid’s long-debated short-term vacation rental law is now in effect.

Property owners who intend to rent out rooms or entire homes to visitors are now required to apply for a permit with the North Elba Building & Planning Department — as well as register with Essex County.

The now-adopted law, which was filed with the state March 19, requires those who rent out their properties on sites such as Airbnb, Vrbo and HomeAway to get first permits. It also requires vacation rental owners to limit the number of visitors who stay on site, and ensure there’s adequate off-street parking and septic capacity to serve those visitors. The law also imposes a 90-day occupancy limit for rentals owned by non-residents that are located in certain areas.

A full copy of the law, as well as digital copies of permit applications, are available now at northelba.org under the Building & Planning Department tab.

Enforcement of this new law is paused until June 17, to give property owners some time to apply, and give the town of North Elba and village of Lake Placid time to set up the new Short-Term Rental Appeals Board.

Those interested in serving on the appeals board should contact the building and planning department at 518-523-9518 or email planning@northelba.org.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide stay-home order, Essex and Franklin County lawmakers have asked short-term vacation rental owners to remove listings from sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, and to stop renting out their properties.

Anyone who doesn’t, according to Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shaun Gillilland and Franklin County Legislature Chairman Donald Dabiew, will be considered in violation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order canceling all non-essential gatherings. Cuomo has also ordered all non-essential businesses to close and urged residents to stay home.

Despite the counties’ requests, hundreds of short-term rental listings in Lake Placid alone remained on sites such as Airbnb and Vrbo Friday. Some local short-term rental owners, such as Wilderness Escapes owned by Johnathan Esper, are keeping their rentals open but changing their booking requirements.

“We are still open to bookings to single families and minimum 1 week stay during heightened restrictions at this time in New York State,” a Vrbo listing for Esper’s River Road property reads. “Per regulations regarding banning gatherings of groups, multiple family groups or friend groups are not allowed to book, with only single family groups allowed to book to be in compliance.”

The listing continues on to say more cleaning will be conducted at the house and an additional cleaning fee may be collected.

“We believe a single family unit staying in a private home and not interacting with others is in line with current NY state guidelines and what governor Cuomo said about staying isolated and only doing solo exercise outdoors such as hiking in remote places,” the listing says. “At this time we are not able to host any persons with reasonable suspicion of carrying the Covid-19 virus, as we do want to burden local hospital facilities, and we do not want any risk of exposure of the virus to my housekeepers or any other house guests or to the Adirondack region.”

Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco declined to comment when asked if Airbnb is taking steps to encourage its hosts to adhere to the counties’ requests, and whether Airbnb considers short-term rental bookings to be “non-essential gatherings.”

Lake Placid village Mayor Craig Randall has said “there’s no reason for people to come here,” and has encouraged people not to travel. North Elba town Supervisor Jay Rand encouraged visitors to “limit travel to essential only.”


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